Liquid gold – clarified butter or ghee

10355018_10154422055465487_8954647669209632033_n

Ever tasted liquid gold? Seriously, I’m not kidding, if you haven’t you have to try it at least once. I made a batch of this smooth liquid gold for a big celebration. Its super easy to make. There are tons of health benefits in this golden smoothness that you cannot but want to include some of it in your diet everyday.

½ cup unsalted butter

Method

Place butter in heavy bottomed pan on medium high heat. Watch stove carefully, do not leave unattended.

When butter melts and starts to boil, reduce heat to medium and continue to watch while foam starts to form in the pan.

20140807_222316

As molten butter becomes golden and clear, you’ll start to see the milk solids separate. you’ll also hear in addition to the bubbling, crackling sounds.  Milk solids will settle to the bottom of the pan. Butter will turn to a clear golden liquid  Its no longer now the visual you are dependent on. Your sense of smell and the aroma of ghee will tell you its ready.

20140807_222116

Take off heat. Let cool for about 1/2 an hour. Then using a cheesecloth or fine tea strainer, strain the ghee to a clean and dry jar.

Don’t throw away the brown residue. I use the milk solids to add to my face mask and it makes for nice creamy and soft skin :)

Health benefits
Ghee is so good for you. Check out the many ways:
1. Storage
Ghee keeps really well. We’re talking upto 100 years. Seriously ghee does not spoil easily so don’t bother sticking your jar of ghee in the fridge.

2. Deep frying is no problem
With a high smoke point (250 °C  482 °F).You can cook and fry with ghee and it will not break down into free radicals like many other oils.

3. Great buttery taste without risk of dairy allergies
Sure ghee comes from butter, but because you melted it down with heat. You removed the milk solids and impurities. I know several friends who are lactose or casein intolerant who happily eat ghee no problem.

4. Nutritionally, it doesn’t get any better. magic like coconut oil. Weight loss too!
Rich in oil soluble vitamins, A D and E. and also rich in K2 and CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) – an antioxidant with anti-viral properties if it is sourced from grass fed cows. Ghee is converted directly into energy like carbohydrates. Rich in medium chain fatty acids which get absorbed directly to the liver (like carbs) and burnt as energy. Athletes can use ghee as a consistent energy source The energy from these medium chain fatty acids can be used to burn other fats in the system and lose weight.

5. Helps improve digestion and strengthens the immune system.
Just eating ghee does a lot. It improves your digestive tract too, makes it healthy. Research shows that adequate production of butyric acid supports the production of killer T cells in the gut, and thus a strong immune system.

6.  Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Cancer
Researchers are using butyrate supplements and butyrate enemas to treat inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.s and ulcerative colitis.  Ayurvedic physicians have been using ghee enemas for centuries to decrease inflammation.

7. Increases a strong Appetite
Ghee stimulates the secretion of gastric acid, thus aiding in the digestive process.so your better digestion means better health and weight loss.

8. Growing energy
Within Ayurveda, ghee is considered one of the most satvic foods. Satvic foods promote positivity, growth and expansion of consciousness. Pregnant women in india are given ghee to promote healthy growth of the embryo. My great grandmother used to spoon out ghee for my mother. She had a palatial ancestral home with hundreds of coconut trees, so she could have just as easily prescribed coconut oil for my mom, instead she relied on the goodness of ghee.

9. Positive energy
This might sound really out there but  Where does ghee get its positive energy from? It comes freely from cows. In India we consider cows holy, believe it or not because they take in tons of good energy from the environment. The milk they contains the essence of all those energies and ghee is the essence of the milk.

10. Lightly saute your spices in ghee.
Last but not least, Many of the medicinal properties of herbs and spices can be absorbed and transported to targeted areas of the body with ghee. That’s why whenever I cook ayurvedic meals, I lightly saute my spices in ghee, not only do my guests get an aromatic treat, but they are getting the medicinal benefits too! This is why Ayurveda uses ghee in thousands of different herbal preparation.
You can do the same thing by frying your kitchen spices in ghee before adding to your dishes.

here are more reasons http://www.care2.com/greenliving/15-amazing-benefits-of-ghee.html

and some recipes to enjoy your valuable and delicious ghee Pongal

hope you enjoyed this recipe and the health benefits, including my personal experiences with ghee. Do comment below on what you think and if you’ve used ghee before, what you like about it.. Enjoy :)

-charuyoga-

Himalayan fennel swiss chard Creamed lentils

2014-07-31 17.32.21Himalayan mountains are not just heavenly. People who live in the mountains are very warm, hospitable and generous. Maybe it has to do with being so close to nature. Imagine sniffing pine leaves everyday or walking in woods or climbing up hills. Its got to bring out your inner cheer.

These swiss chard leaves and fennel fronds came from our workplace terrace garden planter What was I going to make? A facebook question to friends got so many creative responses, that it brought a smile to my face.

Since the past couple of days has been quite chilly, my mind kept returning to the mountains. Wayside stalls serve the tastiest dals and breads. My childhood vacation trips to the beautiful Himalayas are the inspiration for Himalayan fennel swiss chard creamed lentils.

1/2 cup yellow moong beans
1 cup washed and cut swiss chards, including stems
½ cup washed and cut fennel fronds
½ cup red onion, chopped
1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger minced
1 tomato, diced
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
Spice Mix
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 dry red hot pepper
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coconut oil
Pinch hing
Salt to taste

Method

20140731_185716

• Wash and drain moong beans thoroughly. Cover with 1 cup water and pressure cook till lentils are soft. Set aside to cool.

• Wash and cut fennel fronds into smaller bits, including tender stems. Wash and cut swiss chard into smaller bits, including stems. Cut onion, ginger, garlic, tomato. Set aside.

• Heat coconut oil in pan.

• Add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the cumin seeds, onions, hot chili peppers, ginger, garlic and hing

• Stir everything till cooked and lightly brown.

• Add diced tomatoes and let everything cook.  Add turmeric powder.

• Add fennel fronds and swiss chard and saute till fennel is soft.

20140731_191930

• Mash up the cooked lentils till creamy and then add to the pan

• Stir everything together and let come to a boil. Take off stove.

20140731_193648

• Add salt to taste and freshly squeezed lime juice.

I served the Himalayan fennel swiss chard creamed lentils with chapati. Don’t worry if it isn’t a perfect round. its mountain food, so keep it simple, delicious, a bit carefree. I can even see it paired with steamed basmati rice for an equally satisfying meal. Doesn’t it look just YUM. and it was soo finger lickin’ good!! You have to try it. Remember : no fennel no worries, just use swiss chard, but if you have fennel, don’t throw away the fronds, they add a light and delicate flavouring..

20140731_194532

– charuyoga –

Garlicky Fennel Walnut Pesto

20140721_173040 - Copy

Freshly grown organic produce is always appreciated. What makes it super special is when you have grown it yourself with a group of coworkers. In a communal planting effort my organization SAS helped order planters, organic seedlings, gardening tools and organized us into teams. Our planter was bursting at the seams and it was time to harvest.

20140711_092813

My kind coworker did the needful snipping. I returned to my desk after teaching a class to find swiss chard and fennel fronds. I had an idea for the swiss chard, but fennel fronds ? I’ve heard of using the fennel root, but not fronds.. What was I going to do.. looking at the green colour, pesto kept coming to mind.

So here’s my quick and easy garlicky fennel walnut pesto.

2 cups fennel fronds, washed
1 cup organic walnuts
1 tsp fresh lime juice
Spice Mix
2 hot thai chili peppers
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp coconut oil
5 cloves garlic
½ tsp urad dal
Salt to taste

Method

• Wash and cut fennel fronds into smaller bits. Throw away any woody stems, but reserve the tender stems for the pesto. Set aside.

20140721_165141 - Copy• Heat coconut oil in pan.

• Add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the urad seeds, hot chili peppers and garlic.

• Stir everything till lightly brown.

• Add fennel fronds and walnut and saute till fennel is soft.

• Grind everything in food processor till lightly grainy. You can always grind it fine, I just happen to like the grainy texture.

• Add salt and freshly squeezed lime juice.

• I served the pesto with rice noodles and it was yummy. You can choose to serve it with pasta or even just steamed rice and paired with baked sweet potato rounds. Heaven!!

20140721_210525

–charuyoga–

Baked Sweet Potato Fries for fasters & non fasters

20140706_185018Monday is almost here. Time to get ready for a cleanse.

I’ve been doing a cleanse every Monday following my Delhi habit. Every Monday in the UNESCO office in new Delhi, my coworkers and I would fast. To ostensibly pray for something we have been yearning for. And the side benefit, is the really really healthy feeling we had all day. No ravenous hunger, just steady metabolism. It was a good chance to work off all the weekend over eating. We broke fast at dinner time eating a light meal when we got home.

But Indian fasts are not what you think they are. They are a lot of fun. Nuts, and fruits all day and sipping warm herbal tea. My favourite part however was lunch time. We skipped all grains, but allowed ourselves a potato or even better sweet potato done up home fries style.

Fries can be really greasy so I tried a baked version of my favourite root- Sweet potato. And the results : Magnifique! as the French might say. Try it out, and see if you don’t believe me. Better still, why not join our Monday detox- delhi style. You can do it from wherever you are.. We created a facebook page so its easy to keep track of our Monday schedule. Feel free to join in.

20140706_185027

2 cups sweet potato, washed, scrubbed and cut fries size Spice Mix
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp coconut oil
Salt to taste

Method
• Wash and scrub sweet potato thoroughly. Cut into fries size.

20140706_175112
• Soak in water
• Meanwhile heat oven to 3250 F
• Rinse cast iron pan and let dry in heating oven
• Rinse out soaking sweet potato fries and dry thoroughly using clean kitchen towel
• Take dry cast iron pan from oven.
• Pour 1 tsp coconut oil into pan. Add spices and dry sweet potato fries
• Mix fries with spiced coconut oil so that fries are completely coated with the spice mix
• Return pan to oven
• In 10 minutes or less turn the fries over
• Again in 10 minutes or less remove fries
• Enjoy with coconut chutney or simply by themselves

016

Kale Quinoa Potato Rosti with Yoghurt Raita

20140704_170644
HELP! I never thought I’d see this day!! I’ve become one of those Kale addicts. I can’t have enough of it, and have been making so many new recipes with Kale. I shall share all of them in the days that follow.

First though the rosti I made today was divine. I think I might have died and gone to heaven. IT was that spectacular.

Oh and by the way, I’ve also turned into a gluten free monster. So that’s why quinoa & no wheat in this flatbread or rosti however you wish to call it.

Quinoa by the way is fast becoming a staple in my heritage. Southern Indian Brahmins have been using all sorts of gluten free grains  in cereal for generations. Another amazing recipe to follow soon from my childhood bestie. So why quinoa? Other than an amazing protein kick, its also not high in carb, plus its awesomely gluten free. Being heavily into yoga, I constantly monitor my reaction to foods and being sensitive to their impact on my body, read BELLY! Wheat has gotten a bad rap. My objection to wheat is not because of what I’ve been reading. I’m pretty simple in that way. I listen to my body and it doesn’t like wheat, the bloating and the weight gain and the general feeling of lethargy after a wheat meal, I can do without.

Kale has been worshipped for quite a while now. I’ve been a bit slow on getting on the kale bandwagon, but now that I’m on it, no looking back for this chica :)

In this recipe, I used the easiest way to make flatbreads, mix everything together & cook on the griddle.

1 cup boiled red potato, peeled and mashed
1 cup washed and finely chopped kale, woody stems removed
¼ cup red onions, chopped
1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
¾ cup quinoa flour
Spice Mix
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp gunpowder(or lesser depending on your heat tolerance)
½ tsp roasted and ground cumin seeds
½ tsp mango powder
Pinch hing
Salt to taste

Method

20140703_175616
• Mix together potatoes, onions, kale, quinoa and spices.

20140703_180829

 

Lightly bind together with about ¼ cup water(go slow on water adding a little at a time, you don’t want the dough to get too runny)

 

20140703_181705
• Heat cast iron griddle
• Make 7 round balls of spiced dough

20140703_182048
• Roll each one in flour and then press in hands to flatten
• Do as much hand pressing as possible since quinoa lacks gluten so it will tend to fall apart if you use rolling pin too much
• When hands have flattened dough as much as possible, then coat dough in flour and roll out lightly.
• Cook on griddle till both sides are well cooked
• Add a dollop of butter or coconut oil
• Serve with yoghurt raita sprinkled with roasted cumin powder.
• ENJOY!!

20140704_171733

– soul of spice –

Shauccha – the first Do in yoga

Sitting in the port of entry in Toronto Pearson Airport, a bit afraid. a bit fearful, a bit stressed. Why? I was waiting to be interviewed by the customs officer to enter the US to present at a work conference.

Why the fear? This was my 3rd trip to the port of entry. The first time I went with a company sponsored Nexus letter, to allow me to easily cross the border skipping the long snaking lines. But the Nexus office in niagara falls wanted to see more paperwork from my organization.

I went back & my organization prepared a letter for me which I now took to Toronto Pearson airport’s port of entry. After a long wait, the officer called his super and they decided I still didn’t have enough paperwork to justify my presenting at US conferences about 4 times annually. I did think they were rather abrupt with me that time. But more on that later.
Back to work again this time the lawyers from the US office got involved and diligently prepared the legal documents. This whole process involving several work departments took about a month. Just in time for me to travel to Milwaukee to headline a SAS user conference.

Today I arrived at the airport bright and early.. How early? Try about 6 hours ahead of my flight departure time :) I didn’t want to leave anything to chance.

Monday is also the Delhi detox cleanse that friends & I do together. Living on nuts and fruits and maybe some a cup of tea and breaking fast at dinner time.

Why a cleanse? Shaucha is the first Niyama or Do’s of Yoga. Hard to do a direct translate from sanskrit to english, so loosely translated Niyama means rules, there are 5 niyamas in yoga. Shaucha is the first one meaning ‘to purify” or “to cleanse”.
Practicing shaucha externally is through body work like yoga asanas and taking in the purest of foods, easily digestible so that the body is able to make the least possible effort to digest. Leaving the body and mind to become free to do other important things, more important than digesting food all day long :)

Shauccha is also internal, so the idea is to think pure thoughts, and burn down the ego slowly and steadily. The same ego that makes us attach ourselves, me to myself as charu. Often comes in the way of progress. Why does this stop us from evolving? Well, when our focus is constantly on the needs of ourselves instead of what is needed and what is best for each situation, then progress is pretty far away. I don’t by any means call myself a realized yogi, just someone intensely infinitely passionately attracted by the process of self-enquiry that yoga has shown me.

Today while sitting in the customs waiting room, I wondered: what would it be like to take on some mental cleansing? What would it be like to focus on the officer’s job? Instead of cursing him for not giving me the visa last time, I started to imagine his day. All day he has to meet with travelers with tons of paperwork. He has to be constantly aware that crime rates have gone up. He cannot begin to be soft with anyone in case he lets the wrong traveler across the border. He sits chair bound with no access to natural light that streams in in my workplace. He has to limit conversation to questions that can only be answered with a Yes or No response. Empathy flooded over me and I didn’t have one negative thought about the officer.

Shaucha can be internal and external. Through the delhi detox cleanse, we go about cleaning the internal organs & freeing our digestive process of heavy duty work. Through thinking pure thoughts, through selfless thoughts as I tried out.. not thinking about the poor little me, but focussing on the officer and his needs, we purify the internal self, the instrument of the mind, so it reaches that space of quiet and calm where it can function freely and with true intelligence, not complicated by thoughts and emotions, rather focus on the task on hand. I just love yoga on how this over 5000 year old practice brings so much wisdon to daily life and provides an awesome way to navigate through the sometimes rolling waters of llfe.

I’m sure you know the end to this story. It just turned out I had the most stellar experience with all the officers I met. Every single one of them was polite and helpful. None of them gave me a hard time, like I had the previous 2 times.

Let’s see what the master Patanjali has to say about cleansing the mind:
“By cultivating an attitude of friendship toward those who are happy, compassion toward those in distress, joy toward those who are virtuous, and equanimity toward those who are non-virtuous, lucidity arises in the mind” – sutra 1.33

Finally let’s wrap it up with the master’s advice again on mental purity.
सत्त्वशुद्धिसौमनस्यैकाग्र्येन्द्रियजयात्मदर्शनयोग्यत्वानि च॥४१॥
sattvashuddhisoumanasyaikaagriyendriyajayaatmadarshanayogyatvaani
“Moreover, one gains purity of sattva, cheerfulness of mind, one-pointedness, mastery over the senses, and fitness for Self-realization.” -Sutra 2.41

I had a great cleanse today. I hope you get to try on shaucha next Monday.. Maybe begin with the external cleanse of limiting food to no grains. And then try taking on internal cleansing. Shaucha guards the mind, body and spirit against the elements of illness, disease, deception and mental anguish.

I’ll leave you with a musical piece that is my favorite, I love the pleasing scale which helps create a soothing balance in mind & body.